It’s a rather happy coincidence when rival carmakers launch the same type of car at show stands right next door to each other. That’s exactly what happened this year with the new Megane and Astra, unveiled within moments and metres of each other.
Neither really looked all that great in the pre-show press photos, so we were keen to see both cars for ourselves, given that they’re such important models to their respective makers.
In the metal, the Renault exterior does feel like progress from the car it replaces. The proportions are a little odd, with the car’s long wheelbase and very long front overhang combining with a short tail less successfully than the smaller Clio.
However, the details are better, with hi-tech-looking LED front lamps, and a lipped-edged crease that runs up the hood, over the cant rails and into the rear spoiler. We're not quite sure about the rear lamp graphic though.
The Astra’s exterior is also pretty successful, as the designers have done a good job of creating the impression that the car’s nose is low and wide, giving an almost surprisingly sporty stance.
This also helps ensure that on-trend details like the floating C-pillar don’t look out of place.
The interior of the Renault is a bit disappointing, however, with the IP feeling rather like a carryover than anything new, while the portrait touchscreen already feels like you’re trying to use an unfamiliar and rather old smartphone. More surprising, is the cabin is used on the larger, more upmarket Talisman sedan, too.
The Astra also feels familiar, with HMI elements taken from other Opel models. However, it feels appropriate here, with materials that feel better to the touch than in the Renault. First blood to the Astra in this head to head…